Is Adulting Helping or Hurting Millennials?

Anthony Dufresne Dating and Relationships, Millennial Life Issues, Podcasts Leave a Comment

This week Tony and his long-time colleague Lexi Rodriguez take on the topic of,

“Is Adulting Helping or Hurting Millennials?”

This episode of the Surrounded by Idiots Radio Podcast is in search of why the term and concept of “adulting” was created by the Millennial Generation in the first place, and I wanted some Millennial feedback on how they believe popularizing a common transition from adolescent into adulthood is benefiting their generation?

In the show, Tony and Lexi talk about the number of ways this term has been used through standard print and social media and also pick out a couple of examples to talk about.

Urban Dictionary defines Adulting as “to do grown up things and hold responsibilities such as, a 9-5 job, a mortgage/rent, a car payment, or anything else that makes one think of grown ups.”

For the record, this concept was never before given a word to describe the transition between being a dependent kid to an adult.  Generations before the Millennials just lived their lives and slowly but surely tackled increasing responsibility as it laid itself out in front of us.  I guess you could say it was just assumed and accepted that everyone’s life is different and we, as 20 something Gen X’rs or Boomers would either deal with what’s in front of us or ask for some form of help if we weren’t ready or mature enough to handle some new life challenge.

So, now you Millennials have given this transition a name and “adulting” has become part of the


  1. : the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era


Every major magazine and social news site appears to have taken a side with adulting:

  • #adulting is practically trending 24/7 on Twitter
  • Buzzfeed, Elite Daily, Uproxx ahd Huffington Post have all used adulting as a descriptor to steps to help you become an adult, become a better adult or as a quiz to determine, if in fact, you are already an adult and you are not aware of it.
  • There was a book written in 2013 titled, “Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps, where the author, Kelly Williams Brown, states “Just because you don’t feel like an adult doesn’t mean you can’t act like one”.
  • More traditional magazines such as Forbes and Cosmo have recent articles basically trashing adulting as a form of excuse for growing up or taking on what is considered more “adult” responsibility.

So, I think the question is…”Is the Millennial generation’s accepted “label” of the natural transition period between adolescents and adulthood helping or hurting them when it comes to making that transition?

Media and Statistics

From the Cosmo article: “Adulting” is a terrible fake word (that you will not find in the actual dictionary, for the record) that everyone should stop using. “Adulting” implies that being an adult is not a necessary part of growing up, but rather a life choice you’re hesitant to fully buy into. It’s a singularly Millennial — especially female, at that — immaturity that reduces being a grown-up to a hobby. If nothing else you do makes you seem like a stereotypical Millennial living in an entitled fantasy land where actually growing up is, like your hobbies, optional, saying “adulting” is sure to do just that.

May 2016 survey by the Pew Research Center found that 32.1 percent of adults aged 18 to 34 live at home. (In the 1960s, only 20 percent young adults lived with their parents.) Many of us don’t need to worry about going to the grocery store alone because our parents’ fridge is already stocked. We don’t have to think about paying the cable bill because our parents have it covered. Growing up may feel optional because, for many of us, it is.

Women are rightfully wary of this kind of self-promotion, which perhaps explains why they are seemingly more likely to use “adulting.” (A scan of Twitter or Instagram suggests that women rely on “adulting” more than their male counterparts, though the social platforms do not track word usage by posters’ genders.) A January 2014 study by Jessi L. Smith, a professor of psychology at Montana State University, found that our society disapproves of women who are seen as bragging about themselves, while American men who brag about their accomplishments are perceived as confident and capable. A different 2014 study conducted by Women of Influence Inc. and Thomson Reuters and Barbara Annis of the Gender Intelligence Group that examined how women executives view their careers found that women feel the need to downplay their accomplishments and have trouble drawing attention to their success.

Saying “adulting” doesn’t only undermine our talents and make us sound entitled — it also affects our superiors’ perception of us.

My Own Millennial Study

In speaking with a number of Millennials currently in a variety of different life circumstances, it seems like the term is used more by women and is most predominantly used to soften the blow of one friend being further along in the adult transition than another, with both of them having some level of fear that someone will be left behind or that someone will appear to have grown out of their “fun, spontaneous, party mode” and into having to make more responsible adult decisions.

The recent article in Cosmopolitan about Adulting is particularly inviting to analyze as both Tony and Lexi believe it had a lot of good points and a spot-on message to Millennials.

With the term “adulting” being adopted by social media outlets such as Elite Daily, Buzzfeed, Uproxx and even the Huffington Post, and used as a marketing pitch to get Millennials to click and “relate”, it’s no wonder the term is so widely accepted.

Which is what Tony and Lexi believe to be the problem as they tackle the possibilities that the label is taken by some Millennials as an excuse to grow up, while other Millennials use it as a way to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack to show they have their shit together more so that most of their friends.

There are many layers to this term and it was fun to dive in and expose both the positive and negative aspects of “adulting”.


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